Awhile back, I wrote that I was tired of writing about my shingles and that I would write about them no more until I could state they were gone. Yet, I keep writing about them. I guess that is because they are the dominant force in my life right now. They rule over everything else and so I keep writing about them and I will do so today again.
I have also written about how I have turned the clock upside down, and about how odd my sleeping habits have become. I have written about my determination to get more back in sync with the world around me. Yesterday, it seemed that maybe I had succeeded. I got up at 8:00 AM. I took Margie out for breakfast and then, after I got home, that weighty, heavy, feeling that has come over me at least once and sometimes twice or thrice every day since I came down with shingles, bore down upon me and so I laid down upon the couch with the cats and semi-passed out for three or four hours.
The same thing happened in the evening, but for not as long. Even so, by 1:00 AM, I felt so tired and weighty that I had no choice but to go to bed. I was glad, for I thought maybe I would get up at 8:00 again; maybe I was getting more in sync with the world around me.
I did not get up at 8:00. As every night has been, even if at times the day presents false signs to me that my shingles are easing and the pain and itch will soon be gone forever, it was a helacious night. While the pain was bad, the itch was worse.
The itch was absolutely maddening. Sometimes, I would scratch it - not violently, nothing that would break the skin - or maybe I would pinch the itchy spots all over so that a sweep of pain would replace the itch, because I prefer the pain to the itch.
So I was in and out of little bits of sleep until 12:45 PM today - the best sleep coming after 8:00 AM, when I had hoped to get up.
Margie had made some wheat and blueberry pancakes for breakfast, still had some batter left and so cooked five more for me. I told her four would be all I could eat, but when I finished the four, I wanted another and so I ate the fifth, too.
Even in this state of protracted misery, I found them to be delicious.
Although I had gotten up less than an hour before after spending 12 hours in bed, that weighty feeling engulfed me again. I had no choice. I had to lie down. You might not believe this. You might say that I could exercise proper will power and discipline, refuse to yield, stay up and do something productive with my day.
You would be wrong. Whether it is the shingles, the drugs that I am taking to fight it that don't seem to be doing me much good except maybe for short periods of time, but I can't be sure, maybe it would be even worse without the drugs, when that weighty feeling hits me, I have no choice but to lay down.
And the second couch is the best place. The TV was on, a football game - the Green Bay Packers vs. The New York Giants. The Packers went into the game undefeated, but the Giants wanted to change that. For some reason, I wanted the Giants to change that, too. I don't know why. But I did. So I laid down upon the couch and tried to watch the game.
But I couldn't. I could not keep my head to the side. I could not keep my eyes on the TV. I could not keep my eyes open. Once again, I dozed into that strange state of being mostly asleep but still being cognizant of the world around me. I could hear the play by play and so my sleeping brain created great dream scenarios of a football game being waged, although the action did not necessarily match what was being described at all.
Three hours later, I began to come to. The Packers remained undefeated. I felt sick inside. Not about the Packers winning, but about the wasted time. Add the nap to the time in bed and I had spent 15 hours in bed or napping. This is happening to me every day. Sometimes 16, 17 - even 18 hours.
This is exceedingly frustrating to me. I have come to a very rare period when, except for preparing a few photos that I took back in August for a client whose organization, country and way of life I like very much but a client that doesn't have the kind of resources available to pay much, all the big projects I was working on are done.
Originally, I figured I would be left with enough resources to survive without working for anyone else for three months - and, totally unleashed, I could accomplish a great deal in three months - perhaps enough to set the foundation for my future work and survival. But then something happened and I had to make some major revisions to a project I thought I had completed and so I lost one month of the three. That hurt - but I had still had two months. And in two months I could still do a lot to advance my own projects - projects that I hope to build to the point where they can pay my way.
But at the very moment I cleared the time, I got smacked down by these shingles - almost surely due to the stress and effort I had put myself through to get to that moment. I fell into this horrible, shifting, sleep schedule. The doctor said the only way I would heal would be to get plenty of rest. It is hard to rest good when you are perpetually hurting and itching. When sleep comes and takes over and prevents me from using the time to do something productive, I know I must yield and let it. I must sleep for however long my body demands.
I keep thinking that next week I will be over this and can get back to normal. I can still make good use of whatever free time I have left. But next week has came four times so far. I fear that when the shingle-free time finally does come, my window of opportunity will have closed and I will have to go find somebody willing to pay me to do some work - which can be pretty hard for a freelance photographer/author in the middle of winter-time Alaska.
I wanted to take a walk, but about Friday the weather turned horrible. A couple of those Pacific winter storms that I dread so much swept in and overpowered the blessed, steel, cold that had dominated November, pulling up a mass of warm air from the South Pacific. The temperature climbed from -21 F into the high 30's, maybe even low 40's. A wet snow started to fall but then turned to rain.
Along with the sounds of the football game, I could hear the pitter-patter of that rain as I napped on the couch.
To get to the main roads that had been cleared of snow and ice, I would first have to walk roads of ice coated by rain water. I did not want to do that. Nothing is more slippery than that. And it was a bit after 4:00 PM, anyway, so I got in the car and went on my afternoon coffee break. I brought my camera, but forgot to to put a card in it, so it was worthless to me.
I had my iPhone, of course, so, as I took my break, I used it to shoot the images that appear here.
They are, top to bottom:
Street light on Polar Bear Road or Drive or whatever Polar Bear it is;
25 mph sign on the other side of the bridge that crosses the Little Susitna River where Shrock Road becomes Sunrise;
Mahoney's Grotto Iona - A Place of Prayer;
The restored monument to two people who died at the corner of Church and Shrock in an alcohol-caused crash;
The keyboard to my old Mac Pro, challenging me to somehow get something done, before that weighty feeling once again overwhelms me and takes me down.